3 Ways To Use Reels To Promote Your Book

Instagram Reels are one of the best ways to grow on the platform. However, they can be very overwhelming for those who are not familiar with creating video content. Today, I will share with you three Reels ideas you can use to promote your book/profile on Instagram. 

Trends on #BookTok

Did you know that you can follow hashtags? If not, I suggest you do that now. And I would start with #BookTok. Bookstagrammers and authors use #BookTok to showcase content around books and writing. 

Often there are fun and easy Reels trends on this hashtag that do not require you to show your face (if you don’t want to) and require minimal editing. 

Check out one Kelsey Darragh did here.

Give a Brief Explanation

In 15-30 seconds, explain something interesting about you or your book.

Some examples include: 

  • Why you wrote your book
  • Your writer’s journey
  • Any short explanation about a unique aspect of your book

General Reels Trends

Another great way to use reels to promote your book is to jump on general trends. Applying trends to your brand takes a little creativity, but it should be something fun and different. 

Here are a couple of fun examples: 

  • Take this trend for answering questions and apply them to your book or writers journey
  • “You can’t look good in every picture you take” trend but book covers

Other Tips for Using Reels to Promote Your Book

Think of Instagram Reels like a business card. The point is to spread the content far and wide, not overloading your viewer with too much information. 

Do not introduce yourself. In the Reels format, you just do not have the time. This also might not hook your viewer. Instead, lead with educational or entertainment value and have an optimized profile to explain who you are to convert viewers to followers.

Include a call to action. A call to action is an essential part of any content you make that has a purpose (and if you don’t have a goal for the content, why are you making it?). 

For Reels, an excellent call to action in the video itself is to follow you or to download some sort of freebie. 

More Resources for Growing on Instagram

Instagram Reels: A Beginner’s Guide

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

3 Tips for Growing Your Personal Brand on Instagram

 

Digital Marketing: Where PR and Marketing Meet

In many organizations PR and Marketing are not created equal.  Oftentimes PR reports to Marketing. Why?  If you are a public relations professional you know how much your expertise impacts marketing strategies, especially due to the evolution of the digital landscape.  You know where PR and Marketing Meet.

How PR and Marketing are Tied Together

Marketing will handle advertising, design, and copywriting for campaigns.   PR creates stories and messaging from information and research.  Then a publicist or media relations professional will pitch those stories to generate awareness for the brand, product, or individual. PR can do the job using stories on tv, radio, print, and online media.  But, if many people are not watching television news sources, listening to talk radio, or reading newspapers, how does the message get out? According to the Pew Research Center, the largest audience on cable or network news is around 7.5 million for evening, network programs.  Everything else is well below 5 million viewers. Radio World reports that radio listenership is struggling since the pandemic began.  There have been multiple reports on the decrease in traditional newspaper and magazine readership.  Media is more digital and online and this is where PR and Marketing meet.

Digital PR and Why Marketing Needs Us

Public Relations professionals have become much more active creating content for social media and websites.  Content driven social media campaigns are a combination of design efforts from Marketing and  writing from the PR department.  The snappy copy produced in  Marketing is fine for advertising.  But PR people know how to pitch an angle and write the appropriate copy to go along with it.   Also PR people build relationships, which we know is critical for growing a loyal and engaged audience.

Teamwork Leads to Success

So what does it look like when these two departments meet on equal footing?  In an ideal world a team that includes marketing and pr will get together to plan a campaign.  Tasks will be delegated and a structured, executable campaign will result.  Marketing will handle the images and copy, hashtag and competitor research.  It will also have developed a value proposition and target customer(s).  PR  will write blogs, articles, and social media copy.  These professionals will plan a media strategy that includes social platforms and content, plan events, and train spokespeople.

Like me, some PR people are full on Marketers.  In the end we all are determining what motivates people and why they do what they do.  In a sense, people watching and that’s the fun part.

For more information on marketing and pr visit our blog and check out:

Marketing is Not Public Relations

 

 

 

How to Work with a Publicist

I was scrolling through some searches today, looking for different topics I might cover in this week’s blog.  I decided not to write about digital pr and marketing today.  Instead, I am going to talk about relationships.  Specifically, how to work with a publicist.

Don Hires a Publicist

Don is a first time author whose novel is being published by a small press.  He hires a publicist because he wants to make a name for himself and sell books.  He has a modest following on social media and he has contributed a few pieces to some small blogs.  He has a day job that takes most of his time, and writing the book was challenging.  Now that he knows he has a professional on his side, he is looking forward to making some money and hopefully signing a big publishing contract for the next book.

The Publicist understands that Don wants to get coverage for himself and his new book.  He thinks the book is terrific and has had really good success getting blog reviews and some small publications to cover a first time author.  Don agrees to a short contract for a review and interview campaign and The Publicist starts getting the word out.

Three months later, The Publicist has secured about a dozen hits on moderate level blogs and a review in an independent magazine.  He also got a brief Q&A on Don’s college alma mater’s website.  The Publicist was happy with the job, but Don was not.

Why Is Don Unhappy?

If I look back at the reasons why Don hired a publicist, it is clear why he is unhappy.  He hired a publicist to “make a name for himself and sell books.”  The Publicist heard that, and filed it away under “this is what every author wants, but everyone knows how this works”.  Each entity went into this relationship blind, with notions about the process that were not based in reality.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are some questions to ask a publicist that should help make your campaign a good experience.

10 Questions to Ask a Publicist

  1. In an ideal world, what kind of results can I expect?  What are some samples of coverage author like me receive?
  2. What will I need to do to help you succeed at your job?
  3. Will I make my money back?
  4. How many books will I sell, approximately?
  5. What services do you think I need?
  6. What services will you be providing?
  7. How long will it take?
  8. Can we schedule a phone call a month from now to go over how my campaign is going?
  9. Can I get my money back if I am not happy with the way things are going?
  10. Do you complete any tasks that are open at the end of the contract?

10 Answers You Should Hear From a Publicist

These are some answers you might hear to questions you ask a publicist.

  1. This answer is going to be book and author specific.  The kind of coverage you get will vary based on what the book is about, your background and experience, where you live, who you know, etc.
  2. This answer is also a bit specific, but at the very least the publicist will need a picture, a bio, a book jacket, a contact list from you if you have people who can help, and a copy of the manuscript or book for the publicist to read.
  3.  I can’t say for certain, but most authors do not earn back their marketing expenses on their first books.
  4. Publicists do not sell books.  Our job is to raise awareness of you and your book so that there are increasing opportunities for you to sell copies.
  5. This answer is going to be based on the job itself.
  6. This is going to be based on your budget and what the book needs
  7. Whichever contract term you select should be ample time to meet the deliverables outlined by the publicist.
  8. Yes, of course we like to have status meetings with our clients
  9. There is a cancellation clause in the agreement.  We can’t guarantee results, but we do not sell services that we do not feel we can provide effectively.
  10. If there are any leads that require additional follow up, we will make sure to follow through.

For more information on hiring publicists check out our blogs, How Much Does a Publicist Cost? and Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? (previously printed in Publishers Weekly magazine)

 

Design 101: Fonts

Design is a critical element in most aspects of marketing, PR, and social media. It’s the thing that catches people’s attention and draws them in. It could be a book cover design, a flyer, or a graphic you plan to post on your social media feed. If you’re diving into designing things yourself, you’re sure to run into a very important choice at some point – what sort of font will you use? If you’ve never done it before, it can be intimidating. Many programs come with a set of default fonts that you can use freely when you’ve bought the license. However, this can be very limiting. People who have been designing for a long time can often recognize popular fonts on sight. If you want to use font effectively and stand out in whatever you’re making, here’s where to start.

What to look for in a font

The styles of fonts out there are endless- from creepy to elegant to academic, there is something out there that can fit your project perfectly. The first step is understanding what kind of a message you want to get across in your graphic. If you’re designing a book cover for a children’s series, you might choose something rounded and fun. For an invitation to a virtual event, you might want to choose something with looping, cursive-like elements. If it is a more casual event, something with a hand-written print look might be appropriate. If you’re unsure of exactly what you want, try a few different ones and see what fits the look of your graphic. Looking at examples of graphics you like and finding fonts that are similar can be a useful starting point when you’re at a loss.

Where to get fonts

I’m a huge proponent of DaFont, which is a repository of custom fonts where people with a passion for design can upload their work. It’s where I start my searches. Not only is it a large database, but it has fonts clearly sorted and labeled. There are distinct categories for every font to help you find the perfect one. The designers also put their usage terms upfront on DaFont. This is important because to legally use some fonts, you may need to purchase them beforehand. Some are only free for personal use but might require payment for commercial use. Others are 100% free for both personal and professional use. Some may not be used commercially at all! Make sure to check this out before even downloading the font. Beware of fonts that might imitate popular IP (the Harry Potter font is a popular one), since this could also land you in legal hot water. 

Google Fonts is also a place to find fonts that are licensed for both commercial and personal use. It has less choices in terms of categories and gets a bit more technical in its filter system. It is still a comprehensive resource, and you won’t need to worry about whether a particular font is licensed or not.

There are a lot of choices out there – so happy hunting! If you do plan on making your own graphics for social media use, make sure to check out our social media tag for helpful tips!

Marketing Fiction: Beyond Book Reviews

At the recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) I gave a presentation on identifying major and minor themes that can help with marketing fiction.   Let’s face it.   For indie authors, book reviews in any traditional sense are difficult to come by.  We all want to end up in the New York Times, but there are over 1 million books published every year and only 52 New York Times Book Reviews.  Even with a publicist who knows people at the Times who make editorial decisions, by the numbers it looks like a long haul to getting that review in the paper.

The Problem with “Book” Marketing

Many writers think of their books as singular products, referring to them as my “novel”, “mystery series”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “coming-of-age novel”, etc.  I have been working on marketing fiction for twenty-five years and I can honestly tell you that trying to sell your book to a reviewer based on, “this is a great new novel” is not going to cut it in our competitive world.

One Solution to Fiction Promotion Challenges

There are many strategies you can use, like digital pr, but the one I suggest first is dissecting your book to go beyond book reviews. In my presentation, I described the process using a book we all know, The Great Gatsby.  I analyzed it through a more comprehensive lens–digging deep into any promotional angle I could find. Here is an outline of the process you can try on your book(s).

The Deep Dive for Marketing Fiction

  1. Open a blank document or take a clean sheet of paper. Write the title and genre of your book at the top.
  2. Make two columns, one called “book assets” and the other “my assets”
  3. In the “book assets” column write a list of the locations in your book; any topics that it covers (in Gatsby the list included Prohibition and Class Wars); and anything particularly interesting about the characters.
  4. In the “my assets” column make a list of things that pertain to you and your brand, such as where you live and where you grew up.  Add items like what you do beyond writing; any parts of the book based on your own personal experience; why you wrote what you wrote; and any additional interests, hobbies, or skills that you have.
  5. Now make a list at the bottom of the page of where you can imagine finding interest in the items in either list.  Is there a story in the media that relates to your topics?  In addition to being a novel, does you book include anything of interest to health care, psychology, or business? If your book is a mystery, note mystery outlets that you would target online and in print.
  6. Finally, pretend you are a reporter and write some mock headlines based on your list of angles and outlets.  The Great Gatsby in today’s world might inspire a headline like “Class Divides in New Novel Mirror the Culture of Celebrity and Billionaires vs. Everyone Else”; or “New Novel Explores Whether Class is Defined by your Market Value or by Knowledge and Manners.”

Thank You English Teachers

Remember English Class?  Yup, this process has some similarities.  The exercise will help you think about marketing fiction in a broader way.  It will also help enhance the number of opportunities it will have in the media.  Marketing fiction is always a challenge.  The first step to getting more press and attention is to see how many latent themes and topics your book can address.

For information on marketing fiction, see Case Studies #3

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